The world is only as big as what you know.

Once you’ve seen a new place, the map you remember in elementary school changes.  Pink, orange, green or yellow – no longer just odd shapes – states and countries explode into paintings of life.  Each one becomes a new realm in your mind’s eye.

After I came back from Costa Rica, my world doubled in size. My ideology exploded.  Sure I have traveled before, but not to anywhere so vastly different from the United States.  

When I mull over how I’ve spent my years, my travels are giant speed bumps on the road of my memory.  From them I can conjure up so much detail and color, energy and emotion.  I can recall distinctly how I felt while hiking in Noosa, Australia when ocean waves hit the cliff on which Kirk stood, the froth spaying his feet. In Abel Tasman, New Zealand, I reminisce about eating at a seaside restaurant with my parents, my dad laughing out loud at the ridiculously large bowl of green-lipped mussels served to us.  On our gondola ride in Venice, Italy, I’ll never forget my grandmother asking the gondalier to serenade us through the canals – he did, and succeeded beautifully. In Costa Rica, I smile thinking of the happy seven and eight-year-old girls performing a dance routine to a Latin Top 40 song blaring from a boom box, striking charismatic poses at the finale. When journeying down memory lane, I shift down real slow, absorbing every sensation-filled detail.

Here in Chicago, there is a job that makes money, a space to live, a short drive to see family.  Great public transportation and a beautiful lakeshore, more restaurants than cornstalks in Kansas, enough nightlife for the professional socialite.  All in all, what has become for me, in the past year, a rather conventional lifestyle.  Why go?

Convention is not a routine experience maker.

If there are the means for travel, why not leap at the chance?  Let the world bloom as you run through it, each country on the map sprouting from one flat shape into an entire realm: scenery, language, music, crashing, unforgettable, human, experience.

What’s so great about Australia?  Kangaroos, koalas and kabobs.  The ocean, the reef, the surf.  The Ozzies and their accents, the notion that the whole population is of criminal descent, the idea that it’s all “No worries, mate.”

I don’t plan on turning into an expat anytime soon, of course.  But right now, I would love to ride a few waves, capture some great photos, meet some interesting people, and hopefully hit a few speed bumps along the way.